N.M. governor holds out hope for missing balloonists
Associated Press Writer
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson on Sunday asked people to stay positive about the search in the Adriatic Sea for two of ballooning’s most accomplished pilots.
Richard Abruzzo, 47, of Albuquerque and Carol Rymer Davis, 65, of Denver were flying in the 54th Gordon Bennett Gas Balloon Race when contact was lost Wednesday morning. Since then, search and rescue teams with the Italian coast guard, the U.S. Navy and Croatian coastal aircraft crews have been scouring the area.
Race organizers have said Abruzzo and Davis plunged toward the water at 50 mph (80 kph) when they dropped off air traffic control radar and likely didn’t survive.
Richardson, who earlier this week requested on behalf of the Abruzzo family that U.S. forces help with the search, said Abruzzo and Davis are very experienced pilots and the fact that search crews have not found any signs of debris in the water is more reason to continue to “keep our fingers crossed.”
“We shouldn’t lose hope,” he said during an interview Sunday morning on the launch field at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
Several waves of hot air balloons lifted into the sky Sunday on the second day of the fiesta, which attracts hundreds of pilots and other members of the ballooning community from around the world. Pilots and spectators have been holding out hope that the missing pair will be found.
Richardson had no time to take his annual flight on opening weekend, but said several people asked him about the search for Abruzzo and Davis while he walked around the launch field.
Aside from the European crews leading the search effort, the governor said: “Our own government is treating this very seriously.”